Simplicity is the arrangement of life around a few consistent principles. In terms of possessions, it seeks to counter our culture’s insane attachment to things and the constant desire to get more. The goal is to live with less but to enjoy it more. It desires to be free from worry, clutter, and to share freely because of trust in God’s ownership & care of all that is His. Key Verse:
"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?
"And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." Matthew 6:25-33 (NIV)
Simplicity is the opposite of our culture today with its insane attachment to things. We have more clothes than we could ever wear regularly, yet our paper today will be filled with ads trying to convince us we need more. We crave things we neither need or enjoy. We live in a culture where “we buy things we don’t want, with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like.” Our culture calls coveting- ambition; we call hoarding – prudence and we call greed – industry. Without simplicity we will either succumb to the materialistic spirit of our age or we will go to the equally dangerous unchristian position of legalistic asceticism. Telling people they are unbiblical if they braid their hair, or where any gold jewelry – I Peter was dealing with this discipline of simplicity when he called ladies of his day to that – but those things have a different non-value today.
Simplicity leads to a release from the bondage to things. Simplicity leads to greater enjoyment of the little things of life and the things that are most important to us. Simplicity allows us to use things until they are worn out without feeling embarrassed (you probably have guessed I don’t have a problem with that one.) Simplicity sees possessions as neither good nor bad – it is not greedy or misery. Instead there is a joyful unconcern for possessions because they are seen as a gift from God, God cares for it and God gives it to us to share with others. Simplicity does not accumulate because of fear of the future.
Cultures have seen the need of this throughout history and made laws because they knew extravagance was harmful both to the individual and to the society as a whole.
- In Sparta, citizens were forbidden from possessing a house or furniture that required more elaborate tools than an ax or saw.
- Romans had laws limiting expenses on entertainment
- English had laws governing how much could be spent on food and clothing by various social ranks.
All saw outrageous extravagance as sinful. Today this kind of thought is unimaginable to us – no extravagance is thought to be shameful since it is part of our right to pursue happiness – Britany Spears is said to have spent $60,000 in clothes and wigs last week. Conformity to a sick culture is to be sick.
Simplicity starts with a single inward principle: I am going to glorify God with my life – seek first God’s Kingdom and all these things will be added as well. Otherwise simplicity itself can become most important – and you see these people obsessed with bargain hunting and coupons. Then we apply to areas of my life. Fun times – until you settle on one or two things you like to do, you’ll think you don’t have enough free time. Schedule those in as priority and let go of the other stuff. Simplified, freed and happy. Actually can give more time to it. Ways we spend money – settle on one or two extras you like (fishing for me, scrapping for Leisa). Stop the others and you’ll actually be able to spend more on these. Possessions – pick what you like most and weed out the rest you aren’t using. You will feel so much freer. Stuff clutters, has to be moved, dusted, moved. Let’s get in groups and come up with some principles for simplicity today like “Buy things for their usefulness rather than their status.” We’ll just take a couple minutes/share then discuss again!
Downscale one area of your life this week, by weeding out unused stuff!